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Megan Leaves

 

One of my greatest fears in life was the fear of missing out:  not seizing every opportunity, not traveling, not seeing the world… basically living a small, unexposed life.  Growing up on such a small island, I always wondered what was out there beyond the ocean that surrounded me.

I’d never lived anywhere else besides Hawai’i growing up, even if I traveled a lot as a kid.  I wanted to know what other places had to offer and how they were different from Hawai’i.  I wanted to experience life more than anything and find myself in a space that allowed me to.

I subconsciously thought that I had to go away to make something out of my life, achieve things and be happy.  I am from one of the smallest places on Earth, and for some reason, I always had this idea that moving would change my life in ways I couldn’t imagine.  Hawai’i was really all I knew.

My dream was always to go to college on the mainland, which I am so fortunate to be doing at UW.  I’m so happy there and it’s all I ever wanted out of these years of my life.  I’m also thankful to have gone to my first university before I came to UW.  I keep in touch with amazing people I’ve met there who have profoundly changed my life that I love and care about.

Even after independently living and moving to 2 different cities for several years in college, studying abroad has been a challenge for me.  Living overseas is a unique and hard experience.  It’s given me so much life experience, which I was not initially expecting.  Rather than being a vacation, studying abroad is settling into life in another country.  It has actually changed me and my perspective in the completely opposite direction than I thought it would.

Today, I stumbled across the Museum of Childhood.  It was way bigger than I expected with multiple floors, galleries and big displays of all kinds of old-fashioned toys mostly made in Europe.  It seemed so interesting and I loved toys growing up, so I walked in and looked around.  Among every toy you could imagine, there were cases and cases of various dolls, collections of all kinds of toys and so many other things I had growing up.

There was a display with a section about “collecting” toys.  I remembered all the things I collected as a child and how my mom would go out of her way to find certain toys for me that I collected… even going so far as to enlist the help of my uncle to find a certain Care Bear on the internet (no one used the internet back then) that was impossible to find anywhere on my island and even on the mainland.

Visiting the museum, I realized that I had everything growing up.  My family gave me everything in life because they love me so much and want the best for me.  My family does everything for me.  They support me in college and are always the first people I come to for everything.  I know they would never turn on me and would never want anything bad to happen to me.  We are a whole unit, a family… and no one or anything can ever break that bond.

I was simply overwhelmed.  This realization wasn’t sudden or only when I saw the museum, it’s been a realization that’s happened here (abroad) progressively over the past 2 months.  My family are the most important people in the world to me.  I am from the best place on Earth and had everything I needed and wanted growing up.  I really cannot ask for anything more.  It’s a wonderful feeling to know you have been loved all along and that you love your family so much too.  To know that I have a home, close family and a true belonging is so meaningful and a lot to take in.

I called my house the other day in tears and my grandpa answered the phone.  His voice dropped and he asked, “What’s the matter?” At this moment I missed him so much more.  My grandpa was there for me in everything growing up, from feeding me as an infant to watching all my dance performances.  And even while I am in college, even if he is so far away, I can call home and he’ll always be there for me.  My family are the most important people in my life and the most selfless people ever.  I strive to be like them every day.  They are my motivation to do well in school and to succeed each day.  Without them, I would be nothing.

It’s not like I didn’t know this before.  But being in Edinburgh on my own has really secured my definition of myself and what is important to me.  All I want to be with is my family.  They have given me everything in life, care about me the most and I love them so much. I’m looking into spending some major time in Hawai’i with everyone this summer.  It’s long overdue after all these years of summer school, summer internships and summer jobs on the mainland in college.  Christmas break will be amazing with them, too, even if it’s only 10 days for me this year and my mom and I will be island-hopping on Oahu for a few days.

I’ve done my searching.  I’ve gone away to college, lived independently, transferred universities, studied abroad, done internships, worked jobs, gotten life experience… and I’m ready to come home where my heart is.  I’m happy with and appreciate my family and want for nothing but to be with them.